Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982
The homunculus or ‘little man’ is a foundational concept in neuroscience. Credit: Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty

Greetings, I hope you’re warming up, SciSchmoozers!

I hope that you are enjoying the weather. Soon it will either be too cold or hot again! Remember your sunscreen! It’s a bit late but, Happy Earth Day! Here’s a bit of entertaining edumarketing that came out for Earth Day! (It really does make you think.) Here’s a more serious article worth attention… Earth Day Is The Victim Of Its Own Success

One of the amazing things to watch this week was the launch, RUD, and successful failure of the SpaceX Starship from Boca Chica, Texas. You may have seen it briefly but I think it’s worth a watch a few times to get a sense of how the reporting of the launch synced or didn’t sync with the sounds from the launch crew. Some things didn’t quite look right 35 seconds or so in to the flight! Take note of the time, the pitch indicator, altitude and velocity as you watch. At T+1:14 it didn’t look good. The cheering is changing in tone. Then, of course it wasn’t a flip, it was a loop! At T+3:30 the narrative really changes! You have to wonder how much data they got from all of this. In case you forgot or are too young to remember, NASA broke a bunch of stuff too! (It wasn’t until 1962 that the world failure rate broke 67% (1 9 6 2 | 31 failures in 96 missions = 67.7% success) )

Science Isn’t Broken. It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for.

I fear that science is going to be in for a lot of abuse in the near future. We are seeing more cases of science being challenged in the courts. Of course the worst right now may be the right of women to maintain the freedom to choose to end a pregnancy without some guy who knows nothing about the science or the woman is claiming to have superior knowledge and power over women and young girls. It’s more than that though, end of life and quality of life decisions can be complicated in the same way as abortion when someone claims law has priority over life. Just imagine how confusing it is for some to understand scientific law vs. scientific theory! Here’s another article for thought… Red States Are Trying To Fight The World On Climate

Now for a bit of levity after that paragraph… I am a regular attendee at CSICon a conference for Skeptics and anyone who wants to learn more about science, culture, and why there is such a wide range of beliefs. Neil deGrasse Tyson was there last year and gave what I thought was an excellent talk about how we live our lives while challenging how we think we rationalize them. I can’t find a copy of the talk he gave but here is a very similar one from Star Talk. Most of the links about this, I think, miss the point. You can find many if you go to the google!

This week has a lot great learning opportunities to offer both live and on-line. Here are a few that I think warrant your consideration.

– Swiss Cyber Night at RSA – 04/25/2023 06:00 PM @ swissnex
– Wonderfest: Geometry from the Inside – 04/25/2023 07:00 PM @ Hopmonk Tavern  (special note: ( I was never that good at math. A mathematician that only puts some of his recipes for what looks like great food on his website needs to explain why!?)
Stewardship Saturday: Exploring Land and Sea (for High-Schoolers) 04/29/2023
Why are Thursdays so difficult to choose from? The Scientific Magic of Total Solar Eclipses Gravity Never Sleeps – Landslide Science and Risk Reduction Genetic Ghost

I have mentioned before that CuriOdyssey has been closed since March 14th when the storms beat the park mercilessly. While the park is able to open with limitations on weekends, due to power distribution problems, CuriOdyssey will have to remain closed until June! It’s at times like this that I ask and hope people will step up to help their local community treasures survive challenges like these.

I’m hearing and seeing lots of chatter about the upcoming eclipses. I’m dropping this in here so you can plan a bit to be able to catch An Eclipse Double-Header: Two U.S. Eclipses of the Sun in 2023-2024 on Wed May 10. This will be followed the next day by Extraterrestrial Life? presented by on May 11 by Alex Filippenko. Hot tip… you can catch a bunch of previous SkepTalks there as well.

You may have noticed the image at the top. I have always been fascinated by Homunculus! The homunculus or ‘little man’ is a foundational concept in neuroscience.

That’s a lot of links this week! In case you’re looking for more, may I suggest The Morning Heresy?

Have a great week learning cool, strange, and interesting things.
herb masters

“The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them; for then it must sink back into savagery.” — William Kingdon Clifford   

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